Escape of the Inner Monologue

World, inside of my head. Inside of my head, world.

FUCK YEAH CHRISTMAS

I love Halloween. I love costumes, I love trick-or-treating, I love scary movies, I love love love it all. My daughter and I make decorations, paint pumpkins, and trim the Halloween tree. Yes, I have a Halloween tree. Yes with ornaments. What am I, an animal?

But once Halloween is over… and as much as I truly believe we should all express gratitude on a daily basis, and as much as I enjoy eating Thanksgiving food, and as devoutly as I watch the Macy’s parade… I’m totally fine with starting Christmas season. Because FUCK YEAH CHRISTMAS.

I think this year especially, I am fine with the so-called Christmas creep. I need merry. I need bright. I need cheer. I need hot chocolate. There’s some truly horrible shit happening in the world, and Christmas feels like the opposite of that. Christmas is thoughtfulness, and love, and radiant joy on my daughter’s face.

We’ve already been watching Christmas movies and specials. And with my newfound love of baking, I’m researching all kinds of cookie recipes we can work on together. And the tree arrives December 5. Which is a little late for my tastes because I would decorate the tree at 12:01AM on the day after Thanksgiving if I could. But we will make it work.

As an orphan, I appreciate the unique memories of my family at holiday time. And I’m mindful of the fact that my daughter is building memories every year. Christmas is a time for magic, and I want to create that for her so that it stays with her for a lifetime. Each year I do a theme for Santa’s gifts, and make certain to hide the wrapping paper so she never stumbles upon it. We write a letter, and a thank you letter, to Santa every year. And I can’t wait to see what traditions we develop together.

Christmas is the mother fucking best. And this year, bring it on. We’ll still have a lovely Thanksgiving, even if we are bookending it with Christmas carols.

Murder: A Commuter’s Tale

On my way to work today, three people died, and it was hilarious.

Ever go through a period of time where listening to music just isn’t comfortable? I’ve been going through one of those times for about a year now. Sure, there are a few songs that I will put on and play at all volumes over and over again (Wait for It from Hamilton is tattooed on my soul now), but generally I just can’t music recently. It’s too evocative intellectually and emotionally. But what is a woman with two 45 minute drives a day to do? Minnesota drivers are far too infuriating to have to deal with them with no distractions whatsoever.

So, I discovered something the young people are into – podcasts. You should try them. They are fun. And you should especially try My Favorite Murder.

It’s not a perfect podcast, but it’s about one of my favorite evil interests – true crime. Descriptions of some of the most horrible things people can do to other people, juxtaposed with commentary and humor by two average people – not lawyers or police or profilers, just a couple of true crime friends.

Aside from the reassurance that there are other people in the world with as dark a sense of humor as mine, I’ve wondered why I enjoy listening to this recounting of horrific murders. There’s a bit of a totemic aspect to listening – if I hear what terrors have befallen others, those terrors can’t happen to me. There’s also a bit of a perspective setting – whatever I’m struggling with isn’t anywhere as bad as it could be. There’s also a lesson – don’t hitchhike, listen to your gut, cats can be trained to meow for cookies. Ok, so not all the lessons are about how not to get murdered.

But regardless – I’ve really enjoyed having these two funny women tell me sickening stories about the very basest of humans on my way to and from work.

Because at the very least, listening to stories of murder makes me feel far less like murdering my fellow drivers.

A Remedial Course in Uterus Management

As I climbed into the trunk of my car, one foot dangling behind me like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs, I thought to myself, shouldn’t I have been better prepared?

To my knowledge, I have been in possession of my uterus for my entire life. Even during the nine months where I was renting it out to fetus L, I still held the deed.

I imagine most women have a story or at least a memory of their first period. Try as I might I can’t remember mine, which I’m sure is due to either the fact that I was well prepared and confident enough to deal with it when it arrived, or, I have suppressed the entirety of a seminal and horrific event. Definitely one of the two.

I do remember that from the very beginning, my period felt like a punishment. It was grueling – I’d wear a tampon and a pad and bleed through both in under 45 minutes. I had cramps that were crippling. I remember crying in the bathroom between classes in high school from the pain, dripping snotty tears onto the fresh pad and tampon I inevitably needed. But since everyone always joked about how awful periods were, I figured that was just life with an organ that hated me.

In college, the campus doctor offered to put me on birth control. No idea if this was just the standard procedure for this doc or if he was responding to my symptoms, but I walked out with a prescription that changed my life. Birth control made my periods dramatically better.

Until it didn’t. In my late 20s things started getting awful again. My doctor suggested I go on the quarterly plan – do nine straight weeks of the pill, with one week off. And that’s how it’s been for the past 15 years or so. And with each passing period, the flow got lighter and lighter.

With less blood surging from my body, I no longer needed to double up on my period products. And last year I was able to switch to Thinx, which are magical period underpants. You wash them and reuse them. It’s better for my skin, better for the environment, and better for the people Thinx donates their product to when you purchase. Only problem: it’s not easy to carry a spare pair of underpants around with you. They’re pricey, so I need all my pairs in rotation, not riding around in my purse just in case. Plus I didn’t need to be dumping my emergency preparedness drawers on the table each time I needed my credit card or some lip balm.

And this is how I found myself digging around in my spare tire well looking for a pad. I’d totally spaced out on the fact that today was the start of my infrequent period week, and had therefore put on one of my usual pairs of Wonder Woman undies. The customary icepick stab to my abdomen that heralds the arrival of my period was the exact moment I realized I was without my magic underpants. (That sentence may cause this post to show up in a lot of weird porn searches.) Luckily, because I have a long history of being paranoid about leaks and also of not cleaning out my car, I found an Always square tucked away next to my first aid kit.

As I took my treasure back inside, I shook my head at myself. I turned 40 about a month ago. Shouldn’t I be past the point of stranding myself in public without period resources?

And then I tripped on the sidewalk and nearly fell on my face.

So, the lesson is, don’t criticize yourself while you’re walking, and never clean out your car.

Spirit (Crushing) Week

Last week was Spirit Week at L’s day care. This is, as far as I can tell, an occasion scheduled for the benefit of the teachers so they can have a bit of a dress down week. Which they completely deserve.

However, I would prefer that they not schedule Spirit Week for the week after a time change. That’s just cruel to those of us who are lucky to leave the house with everything needed to survive a regular day, let alone a day requiring some lighthearted form of attire for a child who at best qualifies as half-conscious most mornings, and on the Monday after springing forward is so miserably tired she forgot to hate it when I brushed her hair.

I’ll never forget the look on L’s face when we walked in last Monday and the receptionist asked her what pajamas she was wearing for Pajama Day.

“Mommy, I’m not wearing pajamas!” I watched as reasons for her to see a therapist later in life started forming behind her big blue eyes.

“I’m so tremendously sorry, honeybunny! I forgot today was pajama day. How about you wear your pajamas tomorrow? It’s Sports Day tomorrow and you don’t own any sports things.”

“MOMMY WHY DO I NOT HAVE SPORTS THINGS?!?!?!”

“You haven’t picked any out when we go shopping.”

L emitted a harassed, exasperated sigh that would have put any Hot Topic employee to shame, but accepted the deal. Of course for the rest of the day she would innocently manage to mention her lack of pajamas at school and my heart would just break all over, crushed by the weight of Mom Guilt(TM). (“New and Improved Mom Guilt – Now with Shame Inducing Facebook Articles!”)

Tuesday, aka Sports Day, aka Pajama Day Take Two, went a little smoother, except for several parents who felt the need to point out to me that yesterday was Pajama Day and today was Sports Day. I explained that we were doing Pajama Day today because we had missed it yesterday, and also that they needed to get a fucking life if they had time to comment on my daughter’s clothing at 7:10am on a workday. I’m extremely popular with the parents at day care, in case you were wondering.

Wednesday was dress like a Grandma or Grandpa day. The school did well to call it Dress Like “A” Grandma or Grandpa day instead of “YOUR” Grandma or Grandpa day, as I was ready to send my toddler to school dressed as a rotted corpse because I think that would be seriously funny. Also L loves makeup. Also have I mentioned how popular I am?

Thursday was Stripes and Polka Dots day. L chose to layer both of her polka dot t-shirts, the short sleeve over the long sleeve. I got some use out of my otherwise fallow law degree by negotiating with her on whether pants covered in hearts qualified as a type of polka dot. If they did not, I was facing Mom Guilt(TM): Lack of Polka Dot Pants Edition (“Kit Includes Nagging Feeling That Your Child Will Never Forgive You! Some Assembly Required.”). It was the biggest case of my career. I may have a certificate printed up to celebrate the victory, which was must harder won than the only actual case I tried in front of an actual court.

Friday was Wear Green Day, which made me sad I didn’t have a tiny Billie Joe Armstrong costume available. Green is not one of L’s favorite colors to wear, but we did happen to own a pair of green pants and a t-shirt with a picture of a crocodile on it. The school evidently learned from last year, when the children staged a coup after their milk was colored green, as L did not report any glasses of “mold water” this year.

To conclude Spirit Week, I declared the entire weekend to be Pajama Day, and put aside my Mom Guilt(TM) in favor of wine. Take that, Sports Day parents.

 

 

Hypochondria Says Goodnight: A Play in One Act

Brain: Wasn’t that a lovely meditation? I’m ready to get in bed and read.

Shoulders: But we’re cranky. We don’t like relaxing. It’s unfamiliar and weird feeling.

Brain: Just settle down and I’ll start reading Harry Potter. We all like Harry Potter.

Shoulders: Oh yes we do.

Elbows: Oh very much!

Feet: We like the bit about the socks!

Brain: There you go. Ok, all settled in. “Yer a wizard, Harry!”

Jaw: Ahem.

Brain: Yes?

Jaw: I hurt.

Brain: What? Why?

Jaw: No clue. But I really fucking hurt. Like I’m thinking we got stabbed in the face? Did that happen?

Brain: No, I would have noticed that.

Boobs: No one’s been dripping blood on us. We think you’re good.

Jaw: Nope, pretty sure we got punched with a rock covered in razor blades. Right here on the right side. It’s so painful! Like, so painful, you can’t concentrate on that book.

Brain: Aw c’mon. Quit it. There’s no reason for you to be in pain. I just want to read!

Jaw: No, sorry. OW OW OW OW OW OW OW.

Brain: Fine. It’s nearly time to take our trazadone anyway. That should help.

Trazadone: Hi again folks, good to see you. I’ll be whisking us all to dreamland here shortly.

Jaw: OH MY LORD I’M GONNA IMPLODE WITH PAIN.

Brain: Didn’t I read once that jaw pain was a symptom of a cardiac event in women?

Heart: What now?

Brain: Yeah, totally a symptom. Are you acting normally?

Heart: Well, I’m beating at a regular rate. Or I was until you accused me of trying to kill us just now.

Brain: Well, I’m not the one having an event!

Heart: You’re the one having an event of stupidity.

Jaw: GAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I AM INVENTING NEW LEVELS OF PAIN

Reproductive System: Doubt it.

Trazadone: Ok, if we’re gonna fall asleep I’m gonna need you to simmer down, Jaw. Here.

Jaw: Oh that is better thanks.

Brain: Except we’re DYING NOW. We are CLEARLY having a heart attack and we are CLEARLY going to die!

Heart: Dude, I’m cool. Really.

Brain: NO YOU’RE A MURDERER

Jaw: I feel good. Let’s chew gum.

Trazadone: Hey hey hey there, Brain. Don’t your hands feel fluffy? Isn’t the bed so warm and snuggly? Don’t you just want to close your eyes and drift off?

Hands: Did he call us fluffy?

Brain: SHUT UP TRAZADONE NO I’M BUSY SHUFFLING OFF THIS MORTAL COIL

Trazadone: For fuck’s sake. You’re going to sleep now, mother fucker.

Brain: THE LAST WORDS I WILL EVER HEAR IN THIS LIFE ARE MOTHER FUCKER.

Heart: Apropos.

—-The Next Day—-

Brain: So um, hey everyone. We called the doctor and she said that all that pain was probably from stress. We do grind our teeth, and she said it’s probably what’s causing the pain, since we don’t have any other cardiac symptoms. So, nothing to worry about after all!

Heart: You were the only one who was worried.

Brain: No, I’m certain we were all quite concerned! It’s only logical to worry in such a situation. Totally normal.

Heart: You’re an idiot.

Brain: You’re a craphat.

Heart: You’re a pickle fucker.

Brain: You’re a clown anus.

Jaw: I hurt again!

 

El Fin

 

Penny Dreadful and Unemployment

In July, I had the unique experience of being able to enjoy two weeks of unemployment. I could enjoy them rather than fear that the tax man was comething because I had received a job offer prior to the conclusion of my previous job. I chronicled each day on Facebook. This is the compilation of those Facebook posts.

June 27

Unemployment log, day 1: After dropping daughter off at school, came home and formed cocoon of blankets around self and watched three hours of Penny Dreadful. Felt guilty, got up and sorted out box of old papers. Took shower, made lunch, returned to couch cocoon for three more hours of Penny Dreadful. Good thing I’m already almost done with the second of three seasons. Otherwise I’ll never get anything done.

June 28

Unemployment log, day 2: Decided it was probably best to watch the last three episodes of season 2 of Penny Dreadful while the story was fresh in my mind, thus making the decision to resume residence inside my blanket cocoon seem logical and expedient. Took a shower and ran some errands. Brought lunch home and watched season 3, episode 1 while I ate. At this point the cable box decided it would no longer comply with my demands and threw an error, refusing to continue its complicity in my transition into half person, half blanket. Forced into productivity, I cleaned out my dresser and the mud room closet. Picked up daughter and went to fun dinner with friends in the world’s coldest restaurant. Sent thoughts toward cable box referencing vague but menacing consequences if today’s error is repeated in the morning.

June 29

Unemployment log, day 3: Husband decided to work from home today, so was able to ascribe blame to him for my lack of achievement on household projects. Very convenient. Decided to keep things spicy and unpredictable in my relationship with the cable box, so today watched one episode of Penny Dreadful, took a shower, and then in a surprise twist, watched two episodes of Gilmore Girls. Ran some errands, ate lunch, returned home, wandered listlessly around house trying to convince self to be productive. Instead answered siren call of two more episodes of Penny Dreadful. Blanket was delighted for our reunion.

June 30

Unemployment log, day 4: During a spate of 3am wakefulness, and therefore idle googling, discover that the season of Penny Dreadful I am currently enjoying is in fact the series finale. Realize that the remaining episodes must be carefully rationed throughout the rest of my unemployment, like an orange on an 18th century ocean voyage. Decide to spend the day far from temptation, nestled in the bosom of commerce that is the Mall of America. Enter mall with goal of acquiring a wardrobe that is more business casual and less pajama-centric. Leave mall with t-shirt and bathing suit. Declare visit a partial success, and go to local farmer’s market. Woman next to me at strawberry stand is explaining to companion that “that is how you end up with inferior rhubarb.” Ask if the rain was what hurt it. Am shunned. Decide to watch Penny Dreadful, drink champagne, and eat strawberries after child is in bed.

July 1

Unemployment log, day 5: Awoke with sense of ennui, partly because unemployment period has reached its halfway point, and partly because of the toddler leg crushing my larynx. Watched one Penny Dreadful. Ran errands, all the while trying to perfect impression of lead actress on Penny Dreadful. Discovered throaty Victorian narration makes everything more enjoyable but greatly confuses Target employees. Suspended use of English accent during phone call with brother and visit with neighbor, such that neither would advise me to stop watching Penny Dreadful. Obeyed maternal instincts and took daughter to pediatrician, who confirmed my suspicion of an infection and sent us home with roughly one gallon of pink antibiotics. Felt very successful in avoiding urgent care visit for offspring over holiday weekend. Celebrated excellent parenting achievement by purchasing takeaway dinner consisting mostly of nachos. Revived use of throaty Victorian accent while scrubbing toilet. Resisted making any Potty Dreadful jokes aloud.

July 2

Unemployment log, day 6: Usual itinerary centered on TV consumption and perfection of slug impression proves unsuitable with presence of husband and daughter. Spend day instead playing, doing chores, and taking first midday nap of unemployment period. Wonder why napping has not been included on daily agenda thus far. Ended evening with night out of highest caliber, meaning it included bubbly alcohol, much laughter, and one episode Gilmore Girls. Now viewing Paddington as a family while I resist urge to go outside and shake fist at people setting off fireworks, thus removing all doubt that I am 85 year old lady on the inside.

July 3

Unemployment log, day 7: Husband and daughter home again today, indicating continuation of weekend to my otherwise schedule-free existence. Deemed strawberry shortcake to contain enough food groups to qualify as nutritious meal for family if made with addition of ice cream. Also patriotic because of red and white ingredients. Add single blueberry to bowl to complete theme. Decide this makes up for failure to generate adorable Pinterest craft for national holiday. Glow with pride at persistence of genes when toddler emits exasperated sigh at firework enthusiast neighbors and moans aloud that we can’t sleep with all that noise.

July 4

Unemployment log, day 8: Spent first 25 minutes of day explaining concept of a holiday to daughter, who was sitting on toilet while interrogating me as to why she was not at school. Acceptance of concept rated dubious, at best. Despite buckets of pink antibiotics applied to daughter, her fever spiked, causing day to consist of wild swings between staring at cartoons and bursts of random activity that would make Hunter S. Thomson proud. Did sneak one Gilmore Girls during lunch. Chose not to try to also sneak Penny Dreadful, as am responsible parent. Achieved hanging of artwork throughout home with help of husband, in attempt to finish moving in within one year of taking possession of house. Am certain will awake during night and get frightened by unfamiliar shapes on walls. Likely will ask television show to come investigate infestation of rectangle shaped ghosts in home.

July 5

Unemployment log, day 9: Toddler was home again today, resulting in pleasant day playing with toys and taking a nap. Cable box made pitiful whining noises to protest rampant neglect. Promised cable box new set of batteries for remote to earn its forgiveness. Planning to present them in jewelry box which I will snap shut when it reaches for them, as feel certain cable box is a fan of Pretty Woman given how often it’s on. Finally decided to leave house to run errands. Result was imprisonment in Target during violent storm. Calculated that it had been roughly 19 years since last imprisonment in a Target due to severe weather. Reflect on likelihood of unique ownership of a Target storm anniversary. Decide this classifies money spent during storm as gifts for purposes of household budget. Google result for 19th anniversary gift is “bronze.” Purchase of metallic Command picture hangers is fully justified.

July 6

Unemployment log, day 10: Waited an eternity of six minutes after getting home from dropping off daughter before starting next episode of Penny Dreadful. Blanket was forgiving of my extended absence. Despite unexpected plot twist, chose to shower instead of start another episode. Dropped car off for detailing service, and spent two hours on foot in retail district. Found lack of auto to be excellent deterrent to purchasing, due to extreme disinterest in carrying as recreational activity. Did try on clothing, and while redressing broke zipper on shorts. Had to choose between being unable to unzip and remove shorts in case of restroom utilization, or stroll town with fly agape. As is my wont, dignity was sacrificed in the interest of comfort. Ate lunch at Mexican restaurant, indulgently double dipping nachos in salsa as perk of eating alone. Immediately dripped salsa down front of shirt and into open fly of shorts.

July 8

Unemployment log, final entry: Sought refuge from horrors of reality by settling into couch, cuddling up to blanket, and ceremoniously watching final two episodes of Penny Dreadful. Felt disproportionately satisfied with ability to watch entire series within two week span. Imagined this was exactly how marathon runners feel, minus emergency roadside poops and bleeding nipples. Bid farewell to husband, who is traveling to opposite side of globe for business, and to escape further discussion of Penny Dreadful obsession. Wrapped up some tasks around house, contacted representatives in government, and then felt as if a meditation on my unemployment period, and its effects on my mental and emotional state, was appropriate. Instead took hot bath with favorite soaking salts, and used daughter’s tub crayons to draw mural of a unicorn and a dragon water skiing on side of tub.

July 10

Realization that I have to look like a professional grown up tomorrow setting in. Hair has already made it clear it will not be cooperating. Cannot remember what to pack to take to an office. Have required documentation, water cup, and post it note that says “no you should not talk in your Penny Dreadful voice.” Have discussed acceptable places in house to have accident, if necessary, with dog. Did not see her taking any notes, however.

Cuddles

This morning at 5am, my daughter stood by my side of the bed, whispering Mommy and petting my arm. I came awake with the state of mind that I think is reserved for caretakers being awakened in the night – absolutely clear and fully functional yet able to fall back asleep as soon as the need level is assessed.

“What is it, my love?”

“Mommy, I want to lie down next to you.”

We shuffled her into bed between me and R. She pulled her Bunny up close to her chest and snuggled her head into my shoulder as she rolled the length of her body up against mine.

“I’m growing up so big Mommy.”

“I know you are, my love.”

“Not too big for cuddles.”

My mind went back to the last time I snuggled with my mom. She was laying in bed, watching TV, hooked up to oxygen, and recovering from any one of the number of various assaults her body was under – cancer, chemo, radiation, pneumonia, not enough coffee. She was in and out, nodding off in front of whatever was on, then coming awake suddenly at times. I remember that I had had a hard day, although I can’t remember why. Probably some combination of watching your mother die and the drama that comes with being in your early 20s. I laid down next to her in bed and vaguely turned my attention to whatever was on the screen. She turned to me, looked at my face, and knew I was in a tough place in my head. “C’mere,” she said, and put her arm out.

It had been a long time at that point since I had last laid down next to my mom. Although we were an affectionate family, snuggling didn’t really extend past not minding that the other person’s leg touched yours throughout the movie you were watching. As I gingerly placed my head on her radiation burned skin, and tucked my body in close to her shrunken frame, I felt all backward. She was the one who was deathly ill – I should be comforting her. I felt selfish and silly. But I also felt relaxed, and safe. And for that little while, she was just my mom again, and not My Mom, Cancer Patient.

I nuzzled my daughter’s soft blonde hair and kissed her head.

“No,” I whispered. “Never too big for cuddles.”

Adieu, Come mas

My daughter turned 3.

Just like that. Five seconds ago I was writhing in a hospital bed, convinced I was going to die before I ever saw her brand new face. And now she’s three. She’s a running, joking, smiling, opinionating three.

There are lots of things that she’s outgrown, but some of the things she’s outgrown that I will miss the most are her ways of bending the English language to suit her needs. I recently saw another blogger post a list of phrases or words his child was no longer using, and I was moved to commemorate some of L’s turns of phrase that she’s letting go of as she gains more of a stranglehold over English. (That’s how I like to describe my own approach to communicating.) Anyway, in no particular order..

Come mas: This is how L says “come with us.” Examples include “Bunny come mas?” Or “Daddy come mas?” She is always concerned about attendance, and very specifically, the presence of her favorite people. The day she first articulates “Will Daddy come with us?” I will applaud and cry in equal measure.

Carrotted: One of L’s favorite activities on her Kindle is a game where you are a vet, and you treat animals with various medical problems. When she successfully helps an animal in the game, she joyfully tells me how she’s “carrotted” the animal. This is how she says she has cured the animal, and the smile on her face as she describes the carrotting makes me think she’s already heard her calling.

Macaknowknee n cheese n peas n corn: I have always loved to add peas to my macaroni and cheese. R suggested adding corn too, to give it a nice crunch. So L has only ever been served Mac n Cheese n Peas n Corn. And every time she requests this favorite meal, she pronounces macaroni in the cutest way possible, and then lists all the ingredients for me so I won’t forget any of them.

Mommy pwease pick me up: Even though she weighs 40 pounds I still happily carry my little one whenever she asks, for as long as I can. Because one day she’ll be my height and the days when she’d ask me to carry her will feel like a lifetime ago.

I celebrate all her new achievements and etch her many accomplishments in my mind. But I know sometimes I’ll just want to sit and think about the evolution of her, and these little pieces will help prompt a bunch of happy memories from when she was my little girl.

 

 

 

Life, To Go

Since our relocation, I’ve been working remotely, an arrangement that requires me to visit one of our two primary US offices each month. So I’ve been traveling quite a bit recently, and I’ve developed a top 5 list of bits of advice I think I’ll print on cards to hand out during my next trip:

  1. Security is not a surprise: I am always authentically excited for people who are taking their first trip on an airplane. Whether they are 2 or 92, this is a unique experience that will literally take them to places they have never been before. It’s a landmark! But I do think that like any other travel experience, preparation is key. The guidelines for the security checkpoints are well publicized and thoroughly documented – reading them before your arrival at the airport will prevent you from having to entirely unpack your bags in the TSA queue. And if this isn’t your first plane ride, you really don’t have an excuse for wearing your lace up thigh high boots for travel day.
  2. TSA Pre Check is worth it: The lines are shorter. The agents are nicer. Belts, shoes, and laptops stay where they belong. It’s a relative paradise.
  3. Food Up… Respectfully: Everyone is nicer when they aren’t hangry. Pack yourself some snacks or pick up a meal and leave yourself time to nosh. Staying hydrated is also key, even if it means you will have to use an airplane bathroom. But if you’re going to insist on eating a drippy sandwich stuffed with fish and onions, please eat it before boarding the plane.
  4. Remember, Kids are People: And so are their parents. If you want to fly without any children on your aircraft, please book yourself a private jet. I am always horrified when I see people tossing dirty looks at babies just for daring to exist inside of an airplane. Guess what – you’re on public transport, and kids are part of the public. And for many of them, they never asked to get lugged into a pressurized steel tube in the sky, overcrowded with tired, cranky adults. Remember who the grown up is in this situation and mind your manners – and your facial expressions.
  5. Be Aware of Your Limits: If you can’t lift your suitcase, don’t bring it on the plane – check it instead. If you can’t contain your belongings in the paper Gap shopping bag you’re dragging behind you, put your stuff in an actual nylon tote. If you can’t be aware of your surroundings, and walk so slowly you cause a severe traffic jam behind you, stay to the side. Know your own limits and you’ll be a happier traveler because no one will be shooting you nasty glances.

Travel with a toddler? That’s an article unto itself.

X’d Out

There’s a trendy Facebook post going around right now called the Bucket List. It’s a list of lots of somewhat exotic activities, and you are to put an X next to the ones you’ve done and post it as your status. I imagine that there is the obligatory request to tag a billion of your friends in the original post, but like the geniuses they are my friends have skipped this part.

I decided, in a what the hell kind of moment, to do the list, but as I worked my way through it I realized some of the items needed some annotation from me. So here is my Not Actually My Bucket List But A List of Things Some People Do During Their Lives, with notes.

X Shot a gun. I have done this on two occasions. The first was the day of my mom’s funeral, when my cousin thought taking my brother and me to a shooting range would be cathartic. The second was at our next door neighbor’s birthday party.

Gone on a blind date. I have done very little dating in my life, let alone anything as exotic as blind dating. I think I would have passed out from nerves.

X Skipped school. My mom would sometimes let us take “mental health days” while we were growing up, and I extended this policy to myself during college and grad school. Although they were sometimes more accurately called “super fucking hungover days” at that point.

X Watched someone die. I was with my mom when she took her last breath, although I was too panicked and scared to hold her hand for it.

X Visited Canada. High school choir field trip y’all! My family also went to Niagara Falls where my favorite things were riding the Maid of the Mist and going to the Ripley’s Believe It or not Museum because I love hokey shit like that.

Visited Hawaii. Visited Alaska. Putting these two together because although I haven’t been, I fully intend on visiting both at some point.

Visited Cuba. Keeping this separate because I don’t have a strong interest in visiting. As someone with limited funds and vacation time, I have a travel prioritization list, and sadly Cuba, you haven’t cracked the Top 10 yet. No offense.

X Visited Europe. I wish there was a half an X I could make with a keyboard. I would put it next to this one. I have been to a handful of cities around the Mediterranean as part of my honeymoon after my first marriage. They were all gorgeous and amazing and I would love to go back. And I have a lot of places in Europe I want to visit – which is why you aren’t in my Top 10 list, Cuba. Sorry again.

Visited South America. Visited Asia. Visited Africa. Nope. And there’s no point in going to Africa now that Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard made the video I wanted to make about visiting there.

X Visited Las Vegas. I miss these annual trips! We used to go with a great group of people in the summers. R and I got married there!

X Visited Central America. This one is again a half X technicality. I’ve been on a cruise ship that stopped in Belize but I didn’t even get my ass off the boat. It looked pretty though.

X Visited Florida. My dad took us for the first time when I was in 8th grade. We went to Disney World and that trip remains one of the most magical trips of my life. Later, my brother was living there for a while, so Christmas was going to Disney and one of the many many restaurants that were open on Christmas Day. For someone who grew up in a place where the world shut down on Christmas Eve at 5pm, this was so weird. We’ve also sailed out of Port Canaveral and Miami on a couple of cruises. And I had a memorable Spring Break trip in Panama City my senior year of college. Although some truly bizarre, scary, weird shit happens in Florida, it is a nice place to visit.

Seen the Grand Canyon in person. There is a very dirty joke to be made here.

X Flown in a plane. In fact I fly so much I think I’ll volunteer to run the drink cart next time. Mostly because of the number of tiny booze bottles I could hide in my bra.

Served on a jury. I was called but the case ended before the jury was required. Sigh. I’d love to do this.

X Been lost. Not sure if this means physically, spiritually, or just in regards to what chore to do next, but yes, all of the above.

X Traveled to the opposite side of the country. Not precisely sure how this would be calculated from my current location, but as I’ve been to all the edges of the country, I’m gonna say yes.

X Visited Washington, DC. I love DC. The museums, the culture, even the Metro. DC is a city I could see myself living near. Not in, as I do not have the necessary personal wealth, but near. The first time I went to DC was on my first airplane ride around the age of 8 when I accompanied my mom to her stepdad’s funeral. His wife had to be sedated to stop her from throwing herself on the casket and screaming about how science had taken his eyes. My subsequent trips have been heavier on the fun and lighter on the funeral dramatics I am happy to say.

X Swam in the ocean. I did not see any ocean until the Panama City spring break trip I mentioned. Our first night there we went dashing out to the beach to walk around in the surf, by which I mean we started stripping off clothes and wandering around in the waves. Even though there was a tide warning because there had been storms in the area. Ah, college!

Played cops and robbers. Played cowboys and Indians. I do not remember ever playing either of these games. Although I did have my own game where I picked these weeds in our yard that looked a bit like wheat and collected them and added water and pretended to make bread like a settler. And yes I did so have friends.

X Recently colored with crayons. And you should too!

X Sang karaoke. In general, I do not do karaoke. But sometimes you are drunk on a cruise ship or at your bachelorette party or at a creative thinking retreat in a small New England town and a firefighter picks you up and puts you on a pool table and tells you to sing Shania Twain.

Sang a solo or duet in church. Where now? I actually probably would have done this during grade school, but since I wasn’t Catholic, but attended a Catholic grade school, I wasn’t allowed to join the group that performed at church.

Paid for a meal with coins only. This would require me to be organized enough with my pocket change to have it with me and counted and ready to pay.

X Made prank phone calls. At a slumber party at my best grade school friend’s house we were exchanging prank calls with boys and somehow talked my dad into calling them and pretending to be a police officer and telling them to leave us alone.

X Laughed until some beverage came out of your nose. This happens to me regularly. My life is blessed with laughter. Least painful to most painful: water, Diet Coke, milkshake, champagne, Four Horsemen.

X Caught a snowflake on your tongue. Only monsters haven’t done this. Not that I have an opinion.

X Had children. And I tell her every day how lucky I am to be her mommy.

X Had a pet. I actually don’t think there has ever been a time in my life when I haven’t had a pet, which is awesome.

Been skinny-dipping. Not the full monty.

X Been fishing. We used to fish with my Grandpa on Kentucky Lake. I caught a cat fish once and cried until they put it in a bucket and let it swim around. We also fished a bit when I was a teen, and during one of those trips my mom caught a snapping turtle. I recommend not doing that.

X Been boating. On one of our summer trips to Kentucky we were out on a pontoon boat in the middle of the lake when the boat broke down. My brother was wearing a tremendously fluorescent baseball cap that we used to attract the attention of a nearby boat. Bad fashion saves the day!

X Been downhill skiing. I went down a bunny hill twice, and the next most challenging hill once. I did this only because the guy I was dating at the time was a ski instructor, and we had only been on a couple of dates so I was still trying to impress him with how interesting I was instead of admitting that the idea of skiing terrifies me and I’d much rather be sitting in the lodge drinking alcoholic hot chocolate.

Been water skiing. I think this is even more terrifying than downhill skiing.

Been camping in a trailer/RV. Been camping in a tent. My one and only camping experience was with my Girl Scout troop in grade school, and it was more Camp Beverly Hills than camping.

Driven a motorcycle. Never driven, but I love being a passenger!

Been bungee jumping. No. No no no. Nope. Nope. No.

X Gone to a drive-in movie. This is, in my opinion, the best way to see a movie.

X Done something that could have killed you. For me, this includes walking, so yes.

X Rode an elephant. Rode a camel. At the zoo. Don’t go thinking I’m some awesome world traveler now, guys.

X Eaten just cookies, cake, or ice cream for dinner. See: college.

Been on TV. Not to my knowledge. If I have been, please let me know.

Stolen any traffic signs. No – not only is this a crime, it’s a lame crime.

X Donated blood. I try to do this whenever I can, and you should too!

X Gotten a piercing. Do ears count? Then yes.

X Gotten a tattoo. I have three so far.

Gone off road 4 wheeling. Ever owned your dream car. No, and owning a chauffeured limo with a champagne bar will not help me go 4 wheeling.

X Been married. Took me two tries to get it right.

X Fell in love. And I’ve been so grateful.

Paid for a stranger’s meal. The only time it occurred to me to do this I heard the person in front of me in line (my intended target) placing an order for his entire office. I’m generous, but not rich, and subsidizing donuts for an accounting firm isn’t exactly the point of paying for a stranger’s meal.

X Driven over 100 mph. When my grandma moved in with my dad, my then boyfriend and then best friend rented a car to drive down to her place to pick up her car for me to use. The rental car was this huge boat of a sedan, and I accidentally got it up to 120 without even noticing.

Been scuba diving. This is R’s department. They tend to want you to know how to swim in order to do this.

X Written a published book/story/poem. YOU’RE READING IT, SUCKERS. HAHAHHAHAHHA.

X Eaten snails. And it was a one time thing.

X Ridden in a Hot Air Balloon. R took me on a hot air balloon ride in Vegas as a Valentine’s Day gift one year. We got to help prep the balloon, help launch it, and help throw golf balls onto a putting green from the basket. The golfers did not appreciate that.

Rode in a helicopter. Perhaps I can take one to look at the Grand Canyon in person, and finally think of the right dirty joke to be made about that.

X Met a celebrity. I have walked straight into both Fiona Apple and Busta Rhymes. And I was in a play with Corky from Life Goes On.

 

So that’s me – 37 out of 64. I can’t see that number climbing drastically, as except for some of the travel things I don’t plan on adding many of these experiences. But it was a fun list just because of all the stories it reminded me of from my life. So thanks, Not My Bucket List for a fun walk down memory lane. Now off to spend the rest of my day thinking about the best dirty joke about seeing the Grand Canyon.